Monday, July 21, 2014

Miracle League of Michigan

by: Vebb Baraka

Members of Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison descended on Miracle Field at the Southfield Civic Center for the Miracle League of Michigan's “Star Wars” day.  The Miracle League of Michigan is a charitable organization that provides children with disabilities an opportunity to play baseball as a team member in an organized league.  Miracle Field in Southfield was constructed in 2004 and was the first adaptive baseball field constructed in Michigan specifically for children with any physical or cognitive disability.

Even though the clouds overhead threatened rain, we weren't going to let the chance of rain keep us from meeting these awesome athletes and their families.  In between the two games of the day we were welcomed on to the field by a medley of Star Wars music where we were able to have a "meet and greet" and photo opportunities with the players and their families.  As it started to rain we moved the party in to the dugout.  Luckily, the players didn't seem to mind sharing their dugout with us visitors from a galaxy far, far away. 

A great time was had by all, and the rain was not able to dampen the spirits of the troopers or the smiles of the athletes and their families.  Watching the athletes of the Miracle League really brings new meaning to the phrase "for the love of the game."  I am pretty confident that I speak for every trooper who was there when I say that if the Miracle League has another Star Wars event, we'll be there.

To learn more about Miracle League of Michigan, visit

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sci-Fi Spectacular at Blossom

The Cleveland Orchestra summer concert series at Blossom Music Center is something of a tradition in northeast Ohio.  Therefore, when the orchestra invites Great Lakes Base, Ohio Garrison and Rancor Clan to be part of its “Sci-Fi Spectacular” concert – it is an opportunity NOT to be missed! 

The giant amphitheater is settled right in the middle of the 800 acres of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park; which giving the entire venue a very “Endor” vibe.  Which means a few early morning rainstorms passing over the area made for a beautiful (if not humid) afternoon.  This was my fourth tour of trooping for a concert at Blossom and still one of my favorite local venues.

Keeping with the “Endor” theme, would you believe the entrance to our dressing room is via a small “bunker” elevator, on the far side of the amphitheater?  Once our “small Rebel force,” as well as a few troopers and lone Mando Merc had a chance to suit up and make our way back up the hill towards the main entrance -- affectionately referred to as “the hill of death” – we spread out along the path, as guests began to camp out the best spot on the lawn for the concert.  As you can imagine, people would drop their folding chairs, coolers and blankets at the sight of us – wanting to get a picture with us; EXCEPT the guy who came with a fresh box of pizza… even a “jedi mind trick” wasn’t enough to get that guy to share.  When it came time for the concert to begin, some of us changed back to street clothes and other stayed in costume as our contact lead us to a section of open seats for us to enjoy the concert.

The Cleveland Orchestra kicked off the performance with (what else) the main theme from “Star Wars.”  After a medley of songs from popular sci-fi TV shows over the years, and the main theme from “Superman: the movie” (one of my personal favorites), it was time for the “Star Trek” portion of the evening; and to welcome the evening’s special guest.  George Takei was the guest narrator for the evening.  Mr. Takei told the story of how the original crew of the USS Enterprise was purposefully designed as a metaphor for the various cultures of Earth – coming together to create a better future.

 During intermission, you could see kids playing on the amphitheater lawn with toy lightsabers – which as a Star Wars fan, always brings a smile.  Since Fuzzball was our resident Jedi Knight for the evening, I challenged him (there MAY have been some “chicken clucking” involved on my part) to go over there and play along with any kid looking to test their skill against an fully trained Jedi – the same way I did, many years ago.  I’ll give my former “padawan” credit, he stood his ground expertly against a pair of rambunctious “younglings” – one wielding a double-bladed lightsaber – as well as simply interacted with a group of kids barely old enough to lift the lightsabers they were carrying.  As Fuzzball’s former Star Wars costuming mentor, watching this made me very proud!

Overall, it was another great concert at Blossom Music Center as our crew packed up to head for home from the “forest moon” of Cuyahoga Falls. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bowling for a good cause!

by: Vebb Baraka

On Friday July 11th, members of Great Lakes Base, Great Lakes Garrison, and the Midwest R2 builders Club joined together to help raise funds at the bowling fundraiser for a special boy named "Matt" at Indian Lanes in Wyandotte, MI.  Matt Dugas is a very special young man that GLG and GLB met during one of their visits to Mott Children's Hospital.  It was great to see all the people come out to support Matt and his family.  A group consisting of R2, a few troopers and myself posed for pictures with guests for donations, before roaming the event and interacting with guests.
photo courtesy Michael May
As usual, R2 was up to his usual mischief playing arcade games and harassing bowlers.  One of the highlights of the night was when TK-62946 (Micheal May) presented a special challenge coin to Matt in honor of his strength and perseverance.  We all wish Matt and his family the best as they continue his battle.

A great time was had by all.  The smiles on the guest’s faces, and especially on the faces of Matt and his family, were a great reminder of why we do what we do.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Always on the move!"

by: KrisAntilles

Recently, Great Lakes Base has been busy in western Michigan.  They joined with members of the Great Lakes Garrison for a baseball game, hospital visit, and parade – all in the same week!

photo courtesy:
West Michigan
The West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball team celebrated their 9th annual “Star Wars Night” at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan.  Despite a fire this past winter that burned down a large portion of the stadium, the Whitecaps were able to rebuild in time to start their season in April and the June 28 th Star Wars Night saw record attendance and souvenir sales for this season.  Despite the rain, heat, and humidity, 35 members in a variety of costumes, from Vader to Chewbacca to Jedi to Stormtroopers, along with R2-D2, spent the evening entertaining fans with photo opportunities, on-field events, first pitch ceremony, providing atmosphere for an interview of the Whitecaps’ marketing director for WZZM 13 news, and helping entertain the crowd after the game until the evening fireworks show.

There was a “green screen” photo booth, allowing fans to get their picture taken with their favorite Star Wars characters and have them printed on backgrounds from the Star Wars movies.  Donations collected from the photo booth went to the Whitecaps Community Foundation, which is a non-profit arm of the West Michigan Whitecaps that actively supports West Michigan community organizations and programs that improve the lives of families and children.

A great time was had by all, and we’re looking forward to next year’s 10th anniversary of Star Wars night with the West Michigan Whitecaps!

The following Wednesday after the Whitecaps game, members of both the Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison spent the evening visiting children at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan for this bi-monthly event.  Darth Vader and Chewbacca, along with a Jedi and Sandtrooper visited children’s rooms, took pictures and selfies with patients and their families, autographed a book, and showed patients how a lightsaber works.  Darth Vader and Chewbacca even played a game of virtual volleyball with children in the hospital lobby.  This event marked the first time Chewbacca has visited the children’s hospital, as the newest member of the Great Lakes Base was able to make it out for the event.  We’re looking forward to the next Helen DeVos visit in September.

It was back to the Grand Rapids area again on Friday to celebrate Independence Day by walking in the Grandville 4th of July parade with the Grand Rapids Comic Con float.  While Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi were crowd favorites, a variety of characters came out for the parade, including Barriss Offee, Jedi, Stormtrooper, Jawa, Biker Scout, Tusken Raider, and Sandtrooper.  The Grand Rapids Comic Con takes place November 21-23, and many members from the Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison will be in attendance, along with the R2 Builders Club and Mandalorian Mercs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's What We Do

Most fans know the Star Wars universe timeline is centered (literally) on the events in "Episode IV: A New Hope" specifically the “Battle of Yavin” (BBY) when the Death Star was destroyed.  In the case of Great Lakes Base, our timeline for keeping record of events begins around June 3rd, 2006 and the opening weekend of "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” touring exhibit at COSI in Columbus, Ohio.  I was there, and for many of us (now veteran) Great Lakes Base members -- this was our first experience with a major Lucasfilm event, as well as welcoming Rebel Legion members from across the country.

Here is a brief “timeline” of history, as it pertains to Great Lakes Base development:

5BBC = Jedi Knights of Cleveland (Fanforce) formed
4BBC = “Attack of the Clones” in theaters
3BBC = JKOC early costuming events with RL and 501st
1BBC = Celebration III and “Revenge of the Sith” in theaters
1BBC = Cincinnati Pops at Blossom
0BBC = Star Wars “Where Science Meets Imagination” at COSI
3ABC = Great Lakes Base formed
5ABC = Inaugural “Star Wars Night” with Detroit Tigers
6ABC = Cleveland Pops concert  (Brian and Paul’s “Duel of the Fates” performance)
7ABC = Toledo Walleye – GLB with the Stanley Cup
8ABC = Great Lakes Base Five Year Anniversary

Eight years later (or 8 ABC) and there have been many historic moments within Great Lakes Base -- too many to list on a simple blog post.  The reason I included The Jedi Knights of Cleveland in this timeline is that I know for a fact, because I was leading most of them, that many our early Rebel Legion/501st costuming events were organized via the JKOC – before the Midwest Base (now Great Lakes Base) website and event medals were even up and running.  It was around the time when Cincinnati Pops performed at Blossom Music Center when most of our local Star Wars costuming events migrated over to Rebel Legion.  I remember the debate among the MWB command staff (back when I was OH Captain) over the merits of awarding online “medals” to people for trooping. While there were good points on both for and against the practice, I’m pleased to see the tradition has survived because IMHO those tiny digital symbols that show up in your profile (whether you have 2-3, or close to 300+ ) represent more then just some form of bragging rights… they represent our HISTORY!

This year also happens to mark the FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of Great Lakes Base!  To help celebrate this milestone, GLB has adopted a special logo to commemorate the event and is planning to hold a special celebration later this year. Keep an eye on the GLB forums for more information.

In researching this blog post, I discovered that marching in the Avon Heritage Duct Tape festival marked this Rebel Pilot/Jedi’s  280th successful “mission” as a member of Rebel Legion!  That’s important when you consider all the miles travelled, charity work donated, friendships and other life experiences that have transpired as a result of being part of the greater timeline that is Great Lakes Base, because, as we say...

“It’s what we do!”

Friday, July 4, 2014

Have you hugged a Wookiee today?

by: Bacca9

photo courtesy
Tiffany Hulse
I recently visited a friend, Tiffany Hulse, during her stay at Community Medical Center in Toms Rivers NJ.  She's the niece of my boss and has become a good friend of mine over the years.  I didn't ask anyone if Chewie could visit (better to ask forgiveness than permission, ya know?) I went over during work with two other friends/coworkers and thought Tiff could use a reason to smile.  

The nursing staff went crazy (in a good way) and took about a million pictures.  They also asked if I would go up and visit pediatrics and of course being the ham that I am -- I agreed.  Spent most of the time there with Tiff and around her floor.  Her next-door neighbor was terrified when she first saw me, but no one can resist that big, fuzzy smile too long!  She came out for a photo op and a hug.  Aside from cheering up Tiff, that was probably the highlight of the visit; and to top it all off -- Tiff was released later that day!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Stroll for Epilepsy

by: flutefreak05

This weekend, Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison participated in the Summer Stroll for Epilepsy -- held at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, Michigan.  Our primary mission was to provide morale support for the walkers participating in the event.  We stood at the starting line of the race and gave high fives, handshakes, stood for pictures, and encouraging the participants as the made their way along the course.  It was hot, but I cannot say much since there were some of us who had on more layers than I did; fighting the heat was worth it. 

This event had some meaning to me because I found out that one of my fellow Star Wars friends has Epilepsy and is getting fitted for brain surgery.  Overall, this event was a lot of fun and is a start to finding a cure for Epilepsy.